Non-Commercial Thinning - Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Cost Share


Before Non-Commercial Thinning
Before Non-Commercial Thinning

Basic Provisions

  • Available statewide
  • For loblolly or shortleaf stands only
  • 700 - 1,000 stems or 110+ sq. ft. per acre
  • Must be thinned down to:
    • below 450 stems per acre OR
    • less than 80 square feet per acre
  • 1,000+ stems per acre must be thinned to 550 stems per acre
  • Landowner receives no income from thinning
  • 10+ acres


After Non-Commercial Thinning
After Non-Commercial Thinning

Pine stands that are overstocked with too many stems per acre are at a high risk for damage from southern pine beetles (SPB) under certain conditions. By removing some of the trees to more appropriate levels, individual tree health and vigor improve and the tree is better able to fight off attacks from SPB.

Younger stands with smaller trees can be thinned by hand crews or mechanized equipment such as heavy mowing machines, while older stands with bigger trees often require the use of equipment. The trees that are cut can be left where they fall to decompose and recycle nutrients back to the remaining trees. In some parts of Georgia where there is an extremely depressed pulpwood market, the landowner can still receive cost share assistance provided the wood buyer doesn't pay for the pulpwood. Normal pulpwood thinning where the landowner receives money for the stumpage is not eligible for this program.

Non-commercial thinning provides economic benefits. By giving each tree adequate lateral room to grow, the trees achieve normal diameter growth and will increase in value at a much faster rate. Severely overstocked stands will typically have normal height growth but because the lateral growth is determined directly by the percentage of the tree that has live branches, tree diameters are severely impacted by this growing condition. This means that by thinning an overstocked pine stand, they will achieve merchantable diameters in less time.

Thinning also benefits wildlife by allowing sunshine to penetrate to the forest floor and giving native vegetation an opportunity to thrive. Vegetation that is beneficial to whitetail deer, turkey, and bobwhite quail will often sprout and become available with no further treatment.

Non-commercial thinning is a win-win proposition for landowners since it has direct benefits by lowering the probability of SPB damage, increased diameter (and value) growth of the remaining stand, and also benefits the wildlife that utilize the areas.

To apply for this practice, contact your local county GFC forester.

Funding provided by the USDA - Forest Service